As the nation embarks on the 2015 general elections, natives of the nation’s capital, Abuja, under the banner of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja, OIDA, have asked the two major presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the APC to campaign in their villages or lose the critical “one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” as stated in Section 134(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The OIDA President, Danladi Jeji disclosed this at the 3rd FCT Heritage Day celebration and launching of N200 million naira education endowment fund of the nine indigenous tribes of the Federal Capital Territory held in Kuje town during the weekend.
He said: “as the nation embarks on the 2015 general elections, we call on all presidential candidates, especially of the two biggest political parties, APC and PDP to proceed from Abuja city centre to our indigenous towns like Abaji, Kuje, Bwari, Karu, Zuba etc to campaign vigorously for votes. Unless the two top contenders, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari step into our indigenous communities to tell us what their governments will do for us, we shall have no choice than to cast our votes elsewhere, thereby depriving them of the critical one-quarter or 25 percent of the votes needed in the FCT to guarantee their victory.”
Mr. Danladi also reiterated that a situation where the entire country will be voting for governorship elections on February 28, 2015 with FCT-Abuja left out of the election “is unacceptable to us. We call on the Federal Government and National Assembly to ensure all constitutional amendments that will allow FCT natives and residents to vote for a Governor, Mayor or howsoever called in the 2019 general elections.”
Urging Abuja natives and residents to ensure the collection of their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), OIDA also admonished them to vote for only those Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates that promise not to misuse the mandate of Abuja people.
“We are tired of the indolence of our representatives while other federal legislators are championing the cause of their people in the National Assembly. This is the time to vote wise and accountable federal legislators. We can’t have the National Assembly in our backyard and still be taken for granted by the national parliament and Nigerians.
“We need a vibrant, loud, accessible and people-friendly Senator and House of Representative Members that will redefine the campaign for the constitutional amendment and democratization of governance in the way Abuja people are governed. Those lucky fellows that will be entrusted with this mandate on February 14 should be prepared for a new phase of constituents-legislators dialogue, as we shall no longer be quiet or pushed aside again.”
Also speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Ethics and Values, Sarah Jibril, identified with the struggle of Abuja natives for the restoration of their constitutional rights to vote and be voted for like other Nigerians. She commended OIDA leaders for building a community based organisation and urged the group to team up with her office for the establishment of a microfinance bank tailored towards granting loans to small and medium enterprises owned by Abuja natives.
The president of the association also said the group recorded huge achievements in 2014 which marked it out as a credible voice of Abuja indigenous people.
“OIDA wrote a memoranda to the National Conference which led to the approval of the following recommendations by the body for Abuja indigenous people: Mayoral status for Abuja; One (1) Ministerial slot for FCT; Two (2) additional Federal Constituencies; Two (2) additional Area Councils; an FCT Commission for indigenous people and the National Conference also asked the Federal Government to accelerate compensation for owners of seized lands in the FCT. We ask the Federal Government to immediately implement all these recommendations.”
While reminding President Goodluck Jonathan of his promise to grant FCT indigenes one ministerial and one permanent secretary slot which was made during a visit by the delegation of FCT traditional and political officeholders to the presidency, OIDA pledged to support the Federal Government’s development efforts in the Territory.
The association also asked the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, to restructure the land swap and other land use policies of the FCTA in such a way that will accommodate the demands of Abuja natives for equity, resettlement and compensation of seized lands.
“We plead with the FCT Minister to reconsider the demands of OIDA and other FCT stakeholders for the restructuring of such land swap agreements to include 30 per cent ownership for the Project Affected Communities through legally signed documents.”
The group said the FCT Heritage Day is designed to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the nine indigenous tribes of the Federal Capital Territory namely: Amwamwa, Bassa, Egbura-koto, Gade, Ganagana, Gbagyi, Gbari, Gwandara and Koro. The guest speaker at this year’s event was Barrister George Koce who spoke on the annihilation of FCT natives and the consequence of such actions by the Nigerian government. The event had top traditional rulers like the Gomo of Kuje, Agabe of Gwargwada and many prominent Abuja natives in attendance.
Sumner Shagari Sambo
Media Adviser, OIDA